Podcast – Jan Heine of Rene Herse Cycles: The Big Gravel Tire (Tyre) Discussion!

podcast rene herse cycles tire discussion

Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, speaks this week with Jan Heine of Rene Herse Cycles. Drawing on decades of experience and very specific testing, Jan walk us through all the tire considerations from size to pressure to knob patterns. This episode is a must-listen for any gravel cyclist.

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Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)

00:00:00 – 00:05:00

Hello and welcome to another edition of the gravel ride podcast. I’m your host Craig. Dalton. This week’s episode is brought to you our friends at P. N. W. Components. I got to sit down with Erin Kershaw and one of the CO founders of peon w a couple episodes ago, and it was great to learn the back story of the company I’ve always been impressed as a customer from way back when as. To their customer service and I’ve been even more impressed by their products. I spoke a little bit more about the coast handlebar. I’ve been riding a few episodes ago but I wanted to add on the coast dropper post the suspended version. That’s right. Not only am I in the dropper camp but I’m writing suspended post and I’ve been really excited about how it’s been performing. I’ve had a bit of a bad. And while I keep the pressure quite high because I don’t want a lot of movement in it when it does move I realized that I’ve probably taken a pretty substantial hit on the back of my bike, and this is really saving my body. I’m a big advocate of configuring your bike to support you for longer and longer journeys and I think taking the edge off really. Falls into that camp. So I’ve been super jazzed by the coast dropper suspended post. So head on over to pin W components, dot com, and check out the product line that they’re offering and see if anything they’re offering helps you get where you need to go with your current bike set-up gravel ride listeners can use the code the gravel ride for fifteen percent off their order. So guys you to click in and grab those handlebars because we’re on for an awesome ride today. got. Yon. Haina from Rene air cycles coming to talk to us about tires. I don’t think there’s a single episode IV recorded that I’ve learned more than in this conversation with John It. All kicked off in episode for of in the dirt where we discussed an article yon had posted on the Rene our website blog entitled wise seven hundred c wheels don’t roll faster Randall and I, both had our own takes on the article but suffice it to say it was extremely thought provoking I got a ton of emails and a ton. Of comments on facebook about our conclusions and it was a natural place for me to go to talk to Yon and say, Hey, why don’t you come on the podcast and talk us through all the different things that went into that blog post and all the different things you’ve kind of accumulated in terms of tire knowledge over the last decade, we touch on rim sizes we talk about tire casings we talk about tire tread patterns, and we talk about tire inflation I’m going to warn you. I think this is one of those. Ads that you might need to listen to more than once in order to take it all in I know for me tires of been this journey of understanding and nailing down my tire pressure numbers has been something I’ve played around a ton with to try to get the personality of the bike that I’m looking for as Yon Concludes the conversation he highlights something I believe as well that the. Tire and wheel combination is very unique and important area of any gravel rig and it can dramatically change the performance personality and characteristics of your ride. So it’s something don’t be afraid to play around with try things that are radically different, try higher and lower tire pressures to figure out what the sweet spot is. Well, that’s probably enough preamble. Let’s dive right into this week’s episode. Welcome to the show. Hi. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to talk to you too. DAD LOVES TO START OFF BY JUST getting a little bit about your background as a cyclist before we jump into learning a little bit more about your. Company. G. Yeah. Since liking on my life pretty much I grew up in Germany and there were eye I lived on the very popular route for for braces to train. So every weekend, there were these groups of five, six, seven people on the beautiful bikes you know flying by the House and it just seems so so we’re learning. Mountain racing inside the racing, but they’ll also. Always was thinking about what sort of behind the horizon always wanted to explore for the so Back in Germany I rode to visit friends all over Germany on weekends sort of taking off You know after after Joshua’s in college and writing all day and You know exploring new places and that. So from that became yeah. The the long distance is just so appealing to see how far you could go and what you could see.

00:05:02 – 00:10:03

Amazing and that eventually transition to you becoming professional in the bike industry. How did that come about and? Rene was not your first company. I know the brand predates all of us. Yeah so What happened? Here in in in Washington we We have only limited on the roads because it’s the mountains and valleys. We have some really really beautiful roads, but there’s more and more traffic and we started wondering about the lines on the map that we had seen that Nobody was overwriting on we found these gravel roads and we. Started, exploring them and part of it was the bikes that we had back. Then we’re not so useful for that. I started out with a touring bike with specialized try cross knobby tires thirty five millimeter seems huge at the time when we were racing on nineteen on the road. But. It wasn’t quite the same feeling as writing on the road. The bike didn’t perform the same tires to perform the same. It’s we didn’t have that. Feeling of almost effortless. You know gliding along that. They enjoyed so much. So the where if you fall starts starts and we finally realize that we need to. Basically racing bike for gravel. And the touring bike nothing bike and renita racing tires for gravel. And that was a consequence through the interest in long distance cycling random during I had done pears pairs. Famous, right. In France, one of the oldest bike races that became an amateur events at seven hundred, fifty miles. And has a long history and all the old riders and racers and Randall nurse. Telling me about these wonderful handmade made tires that they had the nineteen forty that rolled so fast and there were you know thirty five or even forty two movies as wide and. And nothing like that anymore and what a shame. So we started looking into making stuff like that. Again, I imported some very obscure tires from Japan called Mitsubushi Trim lines that We’re very good start but we realized that could be improved and we started testing different tires figured out. What makes it? Realize that high pressure weren’t necessary to roll past this time when we all wrote that like one, hundred, twenty, five years AJana twenty millimeter tires and we something realize that that’s actually was slower than eighty PSI and the twenty millimeters what’s lower than twenty five and that sort of set in motion. The whole revolution we publish the findings we talked to some guys were advising professional teams, and then suddenly you saw Servando and others experimenting with Wider Tyres, they went from twenty three to twenty five pressure’s lower that was on the road side but we really want to do the gravel, and so you know twenty five didn’t do it back. Then even the we called gravel grinders where twenty eight millimeter tires which is. We laugh about it. Now that we were riding other people were writing eighty PSI twenty, twenty, eight millimeter tires on gravel and. So we were you know we looked into the forty two we looked into the smaller wheeled sixty and all that. and. All those roads sort of led to to the trench spikes because back then in the mountains of the Alps. In France of course, most roads were gravel. So they didn’t think of gravel writing. There was this writing and if she wants to do go up the DA or something like that you went on Garoppolo growth. And so the bikes without existed and there were quite sophisticated because. The, how to say the technology hasn’t changed that much apart from carbon titanium but otherwise. Human bodies. Sort of are still the same now where fifty eight years ago. and the technology was really well developed by nineteen thirty. And filter pretty quickly down to bicycles like and that’s where renting come in who was an airplane builder who worked on prototype aircraft. including the first thing to fly across the Atlantic compares to New York which. A few years after Charles. Lindbergh. But was against the win. So it was a lot harder. They took thirty six hours of non of flying and. Anyway the reindeer started making bikes because he was an avid cyclist and Vice. Where sort of the gravel bikes that we need with the big tires very lightweight basically racing bikes for gravel road, racing bikes, fenders, and racks for bringing a few things lights who riding at night. But still high-performance bikes touring bikes ranks. That’s sort of opened our eyes of what was audible.

00:10:04 – 00:15:02

That’s an amazing origin story. Can I ask you to describe sort of random nearing as a aspect of the sport because I think some of my listeners imagine many of them aren’t familiar with what that term actually refers to. Well. Originally, it’s a French term that basically just made heike and it was. Transferred, to bicycle. As going long distances on the bike Really you know high pay and the light load. So not carrying a tent and you know your kitchen sink but carrying a small bag and. Yeah. Pushing the boundaries software you could go there was Oregon the Nineties magazine Sevilla’s you put all the challenge for hours. How far can you get in forty hours and all these reader it’s and said, I went to the mall to from Leon back and all kinds of adventures. So it’s sort of took off from there. It’s really interesting to me looking at it because I clearly, it’s the same. Spirit as what we associate with growl riding today and in many ways even more. So with these multi-day, super long events that Renner’s tend towards. Yeah I mean it’s really you know now we have a lot of them gravel tour divide. So mountain race things like that are are sort of going back to the roots of cycling of exploring places that we usually don’t go and so on. So, and rendering became a little more established. They organize these events two, hundred, three, hundred, four, hundred, six, hundred, and one, thousand, two, hundred kilometer they called pervades, which means basically you get the diploma you have passed the test or something and how it works is the you check in at certain points to show that you’ve completed the whole course you get your card stamped and often it’s a convenience stores you just you know get the receipt or something. And at the end, you can get the medal So that’s the institutional part of the sport and it’s also great fun. But more often we just had thousand miles is because we wanted to see where we can go. Once we set ourselves a challenge going from Seattle to the highest roads on Mount Saint Helen then to the highest roads on Mount Rainier and back in twenty four hours. So that was really fun project we finished with twelve minutes to spare and But one of the greatest memories. Of Riding Bikes in the cascade that I think there’s a lot of stories out there for people who are interested in understanding Randy nearing a little bit more. It’s it’s seems like an amazing side of the sport and just a unique way of challenging yourself that doesn’t involve necessarily pinning a number on it. It’s from listening to you. It seems like it’s really about. The adventure and setting a challenge to lower what your world around you. Yeah. Absolutely I mean the one thing that I really enjoy about random dorien. It’s much more about teamwork because. I recorded, but it’s not there’s no winner. So first of all, just the fastest if you’re the fastest, but you aren’t any better than the others, but taking the for group of people comes in together the times the only report it to the minutes. So there’s no sprint. Yeah. You know when I was racing was always you in the breakaway with three other guys and you’re working well together and just sort of this feeling of almost loved like everybody’s doing their part you’re. Does Well oiled machine of of a baseline rotating, and then suddenly they signed a two one kilometer and you turn into end, you need to think about how can I out smart the other guys how can out sprint them and deep down I was always feeling like well, the other guys deserve to win just as much as I do but that’s not how you racist. So rendering sort of allows that where you all across the finish line together and you know you like. Related and you did yeah and one of the four that I won other three say I’ll shoot you know I should have. Stars in my sprint a little sooner or puts a little more into it or not taking that many pools earlier or stuff like that. You know they’re no regret. Yeah and. That’s the way I know I feel in the middle of pack of a gravel racism I’m happy to have completed the event and I really love that whether it’s the first person in line or the last person at the end of the race. We all had that similar experience. We can enjoy ourselves talking about the roads we just conquered in the trails we just concord. That’s really why grabble rating has taken off so much I mean gravel itself I find fascinating because the bike has a little more freedom to move around. So you can play with the bike into the more vs on the roads where if you break traction usually you go down.

00:15:02 – 00:20:11

So it’s it’s more prescriptive on the broke whereas on gravel. If you go to fast, you get the big slide and he said, well, I should call them slower next time And but I think the main thing is the competition is this but it’s much more friendly. It’s much more. You know nobody said, well, I can eighty nine I’m better than you because you came only ninety. Yeah absolutely. My brief foray into the sport of triathlon I distinctly remember sort of people wanting to race me for four hundred place at Ironman not even that probably way back of the pack, but you know what? I don’t in a gravel race I don’t look at the guy next to me on a climate and think, oh, I need to beat you up this climb i. kind of look at him or her and say to myself. We’re in a beautiful place we’re exploring. We’re having an adventure sure and much like mountain biking when you have those skit out moments in a gravel event and your heart races, it’s just fun. It’s part of the overall experience you kind of pushing the bike and your body to its limits. Absolutely, so let’s talk a little bit about tires for the listener. Tie creating tire is a difficult and expensive process. Can you just give us the high notes because I know between like creating a mold and selecting the rubber compound? There’s a lot of. Design decisions that go into and expense to get to the tires we see in the market today. Yeah I mean there definitely is I think the biggest revolution was realizing that high pressure aren’t necessarily because before you had A. Big Tradeoff and this more now, just about the about the basics of tires. where you could either make a wide tire that was supple and you know how to say like a racing tire, but it hasn’t really pressures because as the title gets wider the. The case gets a lot more stress. So you can have a narrow high pressure tires. You can have wide tires that either has low pressure or had to be really stiff to withstand the high pressure. Since we all thought that low pressure were slow high-pressure passed. It was really no way of making a high performance tire because. In with an tired, you make a really supple tire like hand May. And you can still inflate the two hundred and thirty PSI because it’s so narrow the forces on. So small. But it was the why has the choice of either the touring Kinda tire that was reinforced everywhere, and you could run that say hundred PSI or you could make a hypothetical racing tire forty, two, million whiz but with only take sixty I or something like that and then sixty. PSI. That’s GONNA be so slow and sluggish. So nobody even tried. I think the the revolution came when we realized that the higher precious make the bike vibrate faster. So it’s fueled faster to lot of writers. Because you know vibration frequency either changes because of the tire pressure or because of you speed if you’re going twice the speed, your bike hits all these little capitals on the road twice as quickly, and so the vibration has also doubled. So there’s a sort of Prosieben you pump up your tires harder and faster, but it actually isn’t it’s we measured that on real roads with real right or power meters, roll down all kinds of different. Methods to make sure that that are results really weren’t just flukes. statistical analysis all that stuff I want to into that too much. We realized that it’s really not true. You can let out as much air as you want almost until the tire so that it becomes almost undrivable and only roughly at that point, it does get slow. Tell you flat tires really slow but there’s no need for a hundred and thirty. Even with Racing Geyer and you know now we all say, well, of course, we know that but that was quite revolutionary. What’s fifteen years ago or so and so that’s realize those tires I mentioned earlier that the old French guys we’re talking about really it works you make a racing tire that forty two millimeters wide you only inflate the to. Forty, or fifty PSI, and do all the stuff that you do on the twenty three millimeter racing i. Yes definitely it’s definitely one of those things I tell you time and time again, I, speak to you athletes who are coming from the road side of the world and they are absolutely gobsmack. Them, you know I’m running on my six fifty be forty-sevens you know under thirty Psi they they absolutely cannot believe it. Yeah, and you know what’s happening is actually physically it’s quite interesting and easy to understand There’s two ways the tire causes resistance. Wonder if the tire flexes, it’s sort of like when you squeeze a tennis ball, how you hand gets tired because you know at the bottom, of course, the tire deforms and the more it deforms the more energy is absorbed, but also the harder it is the more energy as a source else squishing marsh mental doesn’t take much for swishing tennis balls much harder because sensible, it’s sorta hard.

00:20:14 – 00:25:02

And from that perspective, it would make sense to run higher pressures because less defamation means that energy absorption do one however the tire that’s as supple as possible because again, for the same deformation he wants to use as. Possible. What people had overlooked in the past was that there’s another way of absorbing energy and does sport. We called the suspension losses one week what is called the suspension losses? It was the US Army’s that secret this way back in the sixties when they test the tanks used for some really lightweight for top secrets vehicle and they found that if the vibe the too much the rider’s body absorb a lot of energy. It’s sort of like you drop a beanbag on the ground and it doesn’t bounce up because all the energy. Of the of the drop has been absorbed by friction between the that’ll beans inside. And the human body is very good that absorbing energy to so she by vibrates. You slow down just because energy is lost it’s sort of the discomfort that you feel you can. Even if you’re rising really rough roads, you can feel your body gets warm So it’s a huge amount of energy loss the. Two Thousand Watts know you and I know there’s no professional sprinter who can put up two thousand watts. So in theory, you could absorb all your peddling energy on through those suspension losses and you can feel that if you go from the smooth wrote to a restaurant, how much you slow down? Even though. You know it’s still a flat road there. There’s no more wintry this than the tired deforms a little more but of that goes into the suspension bosses. And so of course. The Nest of vibrates? Let’s ascension office you have. Which means? You’re gaining again what you lost because the tire more with lower pressures. So with high pressures, tire states colds there’s no energy loss, the tire, but your body gets warm. You’re uncomfortable you lose all the energy there with low pressure. You don’t do any energy in your body. You’ll lose a little more tire, but the net result is the same so you know if I play my tires to the Max pressure or to. Something much more reasonable as. Really. No. Bearing on how fast the world on the smooth wrote. It’s such an interesting equation and it comes up. So often in gravel cycling I, find because you definitely have to balance what your body is receiving as an input along with the efficiency of the bicycle that you’re on. So. Yeah. What’s interesting on gravel is that actually equation turns in favor of the low pressures. Because there’s so much regulation that running lower prices just simply more Christians I think that well, we did this we ran on rumble strips that you have on the sides of highway because gravel it sort of not uniform were for scientific experiments you want something that’s more replicable. So, we wrote on the smooth pavements. Nixed to the rumble strip on the brand new roads, and then we rolled over the rumble strip where the power meter and it was quite interesting. First of all, of course, how much harder I I was the experiment because everybody else refuse to write twenty miles rumble strips. I can tell you it eats up especially back then because we’re on twenty eight goonies attire but on the rumble strips lower pressure was so much faster as you can imagine I mean. So you know running a forty two millimeter and thirty PSI versus sixty PSI on the rumble strips. The sixty PSI was waste law yet. That’s so interesting. I also noted on your site, which is unique for tire manufacturer. The you’ve got four different casing options. Can you talk through kind of what those translate to for the writer? Yeah. I mean really what testing found and I guess what pro reads known forever is the only thing that really matters and making attire fast is the case thing how much energy is absorbed the marshmallow versus the tennis ball versus I don’t know what maybe even something even harder and so It’s always of course, the tradeoff you can make a super super fast casing. But but it’s very fragile because it’s paper send it. Doesn’t you know doesn’t withstand the rigors of real rose then also gets quite expensive. We talked about Kiai the finer the threads are the the more suppled vacationing gets the fastest. It’s also the easier it becomes to cut unfortunately because you know fine threads, you can’t cut one by.

00:25:03 – 00:30:10

Did. You ever think thread. Resist that there. So Really, the logical way of thinking about tires casings. So the trade pattern especially when gravel, it doesn’t make that big of a difference because you’re sliding rocks US sliding on rocks anyway. You’re just pushing stuff around. So it’s not really how much traction you have on the playoff gravel. It’s more how much rocks have months each other so what you really you? Sing on my microphone. Became talk here got what you really want in the in to think about your tires, which cases you want to run. And in our case, we have four one this the extra light, which is sort of the. Top embracing casing that the. Is Actually not as fragile as love. The people think because one of the advantage with the white tires we have is that they run at such low precious they become a charter to cut. as you come out I mean you ever tired two hundred twenty Psi you right over something the only place that has to go into the tire and the tire can’t before him around it. Whereas if you’re right over, you know glass with a bike five PSI. Nothing’s GonNa cut that tie. It’s like PSI accept a really big nail or something because I just deforms around around the the obstacles. So you know even with a forty eight millimeter tire. At say twenty, five pm you have a lot fewer flats than you would with a narrow tire even with the same casing the same about the sidewalk cuts again, if the sidewall can can deflect than get cut you know it’s much less fragile. but still you know you are in the gravel race, you’re the Peleton you don’t see where you’re going I will ride the extra vacation. Okay. So for that, we also have a standard casing, which is mostly a more economical option. The threads are a little wider thicker. It’s a little stronger. Of course, it’s a little slower. It’s a little less comfortable. but that’s sort of the the he was called the standard case and that’s the one we started out with before. We really pushed the envelope with the extra night. We have reinforced casing, which is the fine threads of the extra light, but with a picture and cuts proof layer underneath both the side walls and the tread. So that sort of our goto gravel, a racing tire because it’s just a lot more punter country this and. Then, we have the endurance plus which is for. It King. Thirty can you know where basically just the rocks are really rough. Speeds are really high it’s stuff. The people don’t see where they’re going. They just hit stuff right next and. It’s sort of yeah. Let’s say carnage but but you know that’s that’s sort of even stronger tire with a stronger puncture resistant layer. It’s still remarkably fast because we say high end materials but it’s it’s definitely pushing toward. Toward the durability is the I would say outside the down the mountain bike world is one of the strongest is you can find your I think when anybody talks about the dirty cans, of course, they always talk about sidewall cuts as being the you never one risk factor. The and you know especially in the race I mean if I’m renting for example where my absolute time is the goal. If I have a tire that saved me hour over say two hundred ride and I have one slack. I can fix that in less than an hour. There’s sort of by trade off. The race and I mean the front group. If I’m ten seconds duck, I’m already dropped I’m never gonna see those guys again. And so the calculation becomes quite different. It’s orpheum game theory sort of analysis where in racing. The how to say the risk of getting draft is made concern but not your absolute time. Yeah and I think that calculation is something that a lot of athletes tend to make some errors in in thinking that they are in the front end of the race meaning they are the King Group. Versus. You know being realistic and saying, where where am I going to better serve myself going back to are taking care of your body part of the equation. You’re much better to take care of your body and go faster than set up really hard bike and hard tire setup that’s not going to serve your body well. The funny thing is it’s not koster either you know the the idea from road racing in the old days. Especially, if I can suffer I’ll be faster because I run narrow tires run higher pressures been drawn and you seen pro racing. You know now the Tour de France was going on, you don’t see anybody on twenty million tires anymore even twenty three don’t exist anymore it’s all twenty five people run twenty, eight nobody’s at one hundred thirty PSI anymore because what we found is because of those vibration losses, the suspension losses.

00:30:11 – 00:35:08

Suffering doesn’t make you faster actually comfort is faster because if you look vibrating, you are not losing energy it’s sort of the same as you look at the off road racing truck for the Baja raised or something they have huge tires that have suspension and it’s not because they want to be comfortable for the driver. It’s they wanted to get the speed you know and. It’s the same thing for us. Oh, you know people always say this too much higher for that event and really. That question doesn’t exist. You Never GonNa be South on the twenty eighth than on the thirty five even on pavement but much less on gravel and a forty two is going to be faster than the thirty five and forty eight will be even. Yeah. You’re. GonNa say I was interviewing Ted King think of his last year or maybe even the year before he had made a comment saying he’s never regretted going wider on his tire. Although it took some convincing him when we came out with with white tires. Yeah, because you know I mean there is of course, one of the equation and that is as a racer if you are the strongest race or And you have the same equipment that everybody else you’re GONNA win. and. So as long as you feel that you’re stronger than the other guy’s using different equipment from the other guys carries the risk because we sometimes don’t know everything like you know the current signed says the current sites signs ten years ago said or fifteen years ago. So that should run twenty millimeter tires the hundred and thirty five, and I can tell you those things are way slower than twenty five. I mean it’s like completely easy to measure. We don’t have to do a huge amount of of of of measuring. And so if but if everybody’s on the twenty, one, hundred, thirty PSI is. The stronger guy wins and every race or of course at the field they’re stronger otherwise they wouldn’t show at the start line. So it’s very rare. You know the fake fame Greg Lemond Arab our story where he was so far behind he had nothing to lose and no the only hope of winning what to get some sort of equipment advantage but that’s extremely rare usually. You know you don’t want to make a mistake and so if you do what everybody else does. It sort of the same thing to do and it makes perfect sense for racer. Yeah. That’s an interesting. That’s an interesting comment. I think it’s at the conclusion of your article Wi- seven hundred don’t roll faster that. Ted has been exploring and using six fifty and a lot of his adventure ridings but he’s still racing on seven hundred C and it sounded like at the end of that article and you you had just said this that you know it’s the safe choice for him. Yeah and you know it’s just like. How to say signs always changes so. how to say it’s sort of like even medical science. You don’t take medication I miss you are you’re sick you know because then you say, well, what do I have to lose? Greg Lemond or even the guy like me you know, I need every advantage I can get. So I’M GONNA run the white tires and the casing and all those things. I mean, I’m not gonNA stay with Ted King I can tell you that. But at least you know I can I can maybe stay with the group that otherwise couldn’t stay with. But if you’re the guy who wins anyway. By Gosh look on the run any risks? Yup. So one of the things that is a constant source of debate around the gravel community is obviously seven hundred versus six, fifty be and I don’t think it. So much as a debate, it’s more around what tire with your bike can accommodate. Right. So as as option in the article. Go Ahead I think that’s actually the biggest constraint with tires is not that wide slower. At some point, you get to the point where you can build a performance bike anymore. Right and you know you look at the mountain bike on is slower than the gravel bike because it goes wider cranes because there’s all kinds of constraints and then you look at the path bike that’s really slow and the main reason it’s slow is just you can’t peddle it efficiently because the cranks are too wide and it’s all about bio mechanics. and. So from that perspective, your the real problem is, what can we fit into a bike and still make it? Be a racing bike. Right. Yeah, I think I’m guilty for sort of leaning into the six fifty versus seven hundred. But as I analyze my thoughts, it’s really about the width of the tire more. So than a care, one way or the other about seven, hundred, sixty, six, fifty b because as you’ve you’ve said in the article like the, it’s very small differences in size at the end of the day particularly, it’s often made up by the tire volume itself.

00:35:09 – 00:40:05

Yeah I mean definitely, yours interested about forty eight has the same outer diameter as a seven, hundred, twenty eight. So you know it’s not and if big O. Tires really role better than you should put the tires or bigger wheels, you should put the biggest hires on because you know you can gain you get another few million. But it’s always it was A. Rate, the bicycles thinker and scientists Jim Popadopoulos who said sites always very good at identifying potentially important variables and then arguing over meaningless differences. Just, like we talk about a pardon bracket high side millimeters lower makes the bike handle better, and then you look at where you sent gravity is it’s about three feet off the ground and you know lowering that by five millimeters if you can’t feel that. I want to see it. You know, and so I think we the tendency clearly i. mean it makes sense if you run a twelve inch wheel or something like that, it’s going to be slower no doubt about it. But like you’re saying between six, sixty, seven, hundred teeth, the difference is small and the other thing people. Think about either is that the tire isn’t brown it stopped at the Boston. So most of the vibration gets absorbed into the bike doesn’t have to get lifted over all these little box like you know like an old carriage did and don’t care when you look at the stage coach from the rest of that huge wheels. Of course, the roads were really rough but The main reason is that if you need to lift the whole the whole vehicle, you know the whole bike, the whole carrots over those bumps speaker, we’ll do work better. But ONCE YOU HAVE AIR YOU’RE TIRED You’re sort of. Say. It’s almost like the cat ATTRAC- where the Boston slopped, right? Yeah. It’s interesting and you’ve got some great hand-drawn they look. Diagrams in that article on your blog. So I encourage listeners to go over to the site and I can link to it and our our show notes. I wanted to go back to a comment. You made about the tread patterns because I’ve been exploring. It seems like less and less tread on my gravel tires even though I tend to ride pretty aggressive terrain in. Marin. County can you go back to your comment about tread patterns and how you guys think about it? Yeah I mean we started out with road tires because that’s all we have and You know we rewrote the some Nabis and song really found that there was very little difference on gravel because as said what happens is you’re pushing around gravel sliding you’re not. You know on the road what happens is they asshole doesn’t move your tire slips on the asphalt. So kids even more drips you can get between asphalt entire the less likely you’re gonNA slipped but on gravel that’s not really a problem you’re sort of tires digging into the ground anyway, and then just push. The gravel because usually the gravel is news and easy to to move so. That’s what’s happening and so tired I can’t really help you there because you’re balk sliding on box and the tired doesn’t even touch the parts that. That, the sliding. So are your are. It looks like you’re knob pattern is quite similar between like Juniper Ridge and a Pumpkin Ridge. So you’ve got that in one category and then you essentially have a slick tire as the other category of of tire that you offer. Yeah. Well, basically, what we found is there’s to use. The two scenarios. One is where you can make a print footprint in the in the soil, but say it’s news. Loose soil usually my I mean I’m coming from the sites across background and they of course, you need because because the just slips on the on the top layer of the deep you can dig in the mud, the better the the attraction you get. And So basically, I would say the the simple rule that if you can new tire tracks really making making little holes in the ground. Then then tread does make a difference. unless it’s really new sand where really again uses pushing around San. You know there’s there’s not much that helps when you look at the Dune Buggy doesn’t have a very aggressive tread. It’s just the biggest tires they can fit on the on the Volkswagen Beetle Chassis or whatever they’re using these right so. Yeah, they think there’s two ways of thinking about about our tire treads. One is is basically a row tire which is optimized fast. Fox and you owned one to real slick tire for the assault because there needs to be a little bit Off Linking between the road surface ends the tire.

00:40:05 – 00:45:12

That’s also why roads are never totally smooth when you talk to role billed as they say, yeah, we could make perfectly smooth asphalt, but the braking distances would just be too great. So they they always have some some roughness building and the tire that can interlock with a brusqueness gives you attraction especially in the wet I mean when you think about it the Coefficient of friction is about how when the roses wet but you and I know that we can go faster than the speed on the wet road than the driver then this it’s already or something but. and that’s because they that interlocking between higher and you always get some of it’s because the rubber is is, is of course flexible. But if you have little ribs like traditional racing tires you get more of it and I think the traditional racing tires had because the rubber compounds way back where not very good and especially in the wet day they didn’t drip. So they need to get every help. They could they got these these trips hazards but even with today’s rubber compounds which are much better it’s surprising. How much more group you get with a really really good tread on asphalt in the West especially. Smelling gravel I would say on loose gravel it doesn’t that you can write anything because you’re pushing around rocks and gravel and and that’s it. It’s a little different on dirt and so it depends on what you gravel looks like I think you’re and by gravel look somewhat similar in Seattle in the cascades in Marin County, it’s pretty new stuff. I would say Thai attract doesn’t help you a lot in most cases unless it gets muddy or snowy or something I think going east like Vermont and so it’s a little different there. It’s more more soil and dirt on those roads and there you can get better traction with the Nabis and so we developed the knobby at first of all that I took cross but you know all so. for for for those conditions And then of course was always frustrating to me. Is I run these wonderful you know handmaid’s be Nabis. Tiny knobs that spread really widely and on mud. It’s amazing how well they grip but each across rates has a little bit of pavement an unjust like the knobs are folding over and I can be pedaling just waiting until I get back on the mud. So I can put down power again I thought this is ridiculous. I. Should make speed on the on the pavements and so the question we had was, can you make a Nabi that? Works well. and well in the mud. The past we’ve had these sort of center ridge kind of knobby tires that really too many dogs to work in the mud because they you know to roll smoothly they put more and more knobs on the. But then clogs up with mud and doesn’t care itself as it rotates So you just basically started writing on the budget brother than then digging into the surface you have sleep tired that made out of. interesting folks from from my be cross raises I? Mean there’s some some peanut butter mother where you can’t do anything anyway. But you know sort of that compromise our question was, could we make the not so big that they don’t squirm on the pavement But still have enough space in between. That they kill themselves and still make them small enough that they dig into. The answers yet? it took a lot of experimentation or we started with calculations because as you mentioned earlier the time over very expensive, you can’t just make a prototype. You basically commit to to more or less production run. but anyway, and we found you can I mean you can make a knobby tire the the coroner’s really well, the rights almost like a slick tire on the road. And that still drifts extremely well in the modern smell and so on. So that’s the second pair we offer, which is basically you know A. A mutt tire that works really well on the road versus the other tire that the road tire that works really well on gravel and gravel the intersection where I would say. He can run either I mean tha king ran the Nabis endured cancer in In the mid south ran the slicks and. You know he says there’s there’s not much in between between them on those courses. Yeah I think it’s really interesting and sort of mind blowing the first time you ride a slick tire off road and. It’s surprising how well they do perform. A. Mean. Realistically you look at you know you drive your car on the gravel road you don’t have huge op speaking out of those tires either if it’s not to say it’s not necessarily. Well like a lot. About the I mean you know if you’re in snow and you know that your car to drive on snow it’s super easy to spin the wheel even though with even though you might have four wheel drive because just they don’t drip and if you have real like rally snow tires on your car, you know it’s it’s different than the same with the bike.

00:45:12 – 00:48:45

I mean that’s where you know if if I expect any snow or mud on the right definitely puts the NABIS. On one hundred, zero saved in between right and that’s the beauty of. Of the tires we were able to develop his role. So well, payment actually better than the month of racing slicks in our testing. That you don’t have to compromise so much anymore you can. You know we did one right where we traverse the cascades. In January not the super hypothesis because you know ten feet of snow, it’s not like you want to do but we went at the foot of months in Helen on roads that are close to car so. Wonderful writing. But we had like a hundred miles of. What we call transport states just roads riding to get that because we took the train to the you know to the jumping off point. Then we rose across the the mountains and took a train back. And Really It wasn’t a chore to write all that Pavement on the on the in fact, we forgot about the now time Britain that course many times wasn’t any slower than usual would be right. Interesting. Will Jana I appreciate all the time today it’s given a great background to your company and your history and a love getting the insight into these tires because I think there’s a lot of thought that goes into it in. It’s worth my listeners understanding the different variables that you need to be considering when purchasing attire. Thanks a lot and yeah, I mean definitely. Yeah. I. Think the tires are probably part of your bike that makes the biggest difference in how the bike fields and performs and Maybe, we made those tires because we wanted tires to ride ourselves, and that’s always been sort of driving or development. is where and how and what we want to ride. So. Thanks a lot for having me. Big. Thanks John for coming on the show and I hope you learned a ton about tires, tire pressure and tire treads during the conversation I. Know I did there was a lot to that conversation. So don’t be afraid to rewind and hit play again and take some notes. I think we can all learn a lot from yawn and the great news is a lot of the things he said can be applied to your existing wheel, set your existing tires to test and learn and see if some. Of the things that he’s discovered in his writing and testing match with your own personal tests on the road and trail. Big. Thanks again to this week sponsor pin W. components do not forget about that discount code the gravel ride I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast and big thanks to everybody who’s been visiting by me a coffee dot com slash the gravel ride to check out how you can support the podcast and some of the different membership perks and membership options that we’ve been adding to that page from time to time. Supporting the PODCAST is not within your means, ratings and reviews, and simply sharing the podcast with your friends is incredibly helpful to me, and it really puts them wind in my sails. So that’s it. For this week my friends make sure to hit me up on social media and remember we’ve got that new facebook listener forum. I’d love for you to join where I’m looking for episode, suggestions and questions you might have for us to cover in the dirt. So until next time, I’m signing off and here’s to finding some dirt under your wheels.

The Gravel Ride Podcast


  1. Avatar Sloe Anolder

    I’ve read Jan’s newsletter, the Bicycle Quarterly, for decades. It was great to put a voice to his prose. Thanks! If you’ve not heard of Jan before, those back issues make a great resource. So are Grant Peterson’s (Rivendell) many posts and his books. There is so much more to riding than competition.

    • JOM JOM

      I know about the non-competition side of cycling. Riding solo during this pandemic has been delightful 🙂

  2. Hi JOM,

    What frame is that in the photo above? It’s bloody striking!!

    • JOM JOM

      Hello there, the frame is by Mosaic out of Boulder, Colorado. Search the site for some galleries / videos I’ve posted in the past about this splendid brand, in addition to visiting their website.

  3. Avatar soul

    starting at $6900 for frame only, better get that DDS degree first

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